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‘I’m scared for my baby shop’s customers when both free Covid tests and isolation are scrapped’

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The owner of a Balham baby products store has said she is concerned vulnerable and pregnant customers will avoid shopping in person now the government has scrapped self-isolation rules.

Elizabeth Jones, who runs Natural for Baby from Balham, told MyLondon: “I’m concerned customers might not come out. Since December when it wasn’t quite a lockdown, it still felt like one. The Covid rates are still very high, 41,000 were infected on Monday (February 21), with 205 deaths from Covid.

“It’s still going on. Pregnant customers are going to be following the news. It will impact who’s going to come out.”

The scrapping of free tests from April could also knock customer confidence, she fears. “Lots of people won’t be testing anymore,” Elizabeth added. “But I’d like to know if I have or don’t have Covid. I have vulnerable customers, vulnerable friends and family. Any cost would make you not do it. Being free means people test.”

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And she said many of her customers will know pregnant mums or vulnerable people. She explained: “Personally, I have a nephew going through leukaemia treatment. I don’t want to pass Covid onto an eight-year-old who can’t get the vaccine. And if you’re invited to a baby shower but don’t have self-isolation and testing, people probably won’t bother.”

Her business has been badly hit over the past two years, with Elizabeth adding: “It’s been a strange time. In the first lockdown I packed up and operated from my loft conversion, delivering in person. Between the first and second [2020 lockdowns], things picked up a bit. But the second lockdown forced us to close, and the third [January -March 2021] really had an impact.

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“I had people who came to me recently and said they’d forgotten I was there, they hadn’t left their house…you only got support if you were on benefits, or employed. We slipped through every crack.”

For now, Elizabeth will encourage customers to wear masks: “I’m still wearing one. The government asked businesses to have natural ventilation – I don’t know how to do that, with no back windows or doors.

“I’ve got an air purifier, and I still ask people to wear a mask. Most do, and I’ll keep my sign up to see how people get on with it. But if I end up losing lots of customers, I may have to reconsider.”

I joined MyLondon as the outlet’s first City Hall Editor in October 2021, reporting on the Mayor, the London Assembly, the Met police, Transport for London, and wider London politics.

I moved to South London from Brussels in 2015, working in communications for the Electoral Reform Society, and covering Westminster politics as a freelance journalist. I’m originally from Cornwall and love the sea – but also London’s liveliness. I’m a big fan of puns, tea and twee folk music.

If there’s a good untold story – whether it’s housing nightmares, unfair decisions or local scandals, you can be sure I’ll aim to cover it. Got a story, piece of gossip or feedback? Get in touch at [email protected] or contact me on Twitter.

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https://www.mylondon.news/news/south-london-news/im-scared-baby-shops-customers-23189414